Learn more about motion sickness and how to treat it

Trips to the amusement park are a summertime ritual for many Americans. And during those trips, you could find yourself spinning in circles, dropping from great heights, or whirling around roller coaster tracks.

For those of us who experience motion sickness, the fun ends when the ride is over — and our stomachs start to churn.

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Amusement park rides aren’t the only motion sickness trigger: Cars, boats, buses, and airplanes can set off queasy feelings in people prone to this condition.

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Not So Amusing: What Is Motion Sickness?

Motion sickness occurs when the signals your brain receives from your eyes, ears, and muscles don’t match what’s occurring in your surroundings.

For example, when you are on a boat, your inner ear senses motion, but your eyes can’t tell that you are moving. And whether you’re riding in a car or on a carousel, a similar problem can occur, making you feel dizzy or nauseous, or even throw up.

Not everyone is bothered by motion sickness. You’re more likely to experience it if you:

How to Prevent Motion Sickness

Although the best way to protect against motion sickness is to avoid its causes, that’s hardly realistic, especially for amusement park lovers. Instead, try these tips to prevent motion sickness:

  • Gaze into the distance at stationary objects. If you’re on a boat, try staring at the horizon for a few minutes.
  • Keep your head still while resting it against a seat back. Kevin Wong, MD, Westmoreland Family Medicine-UPMC, advised, “Keep your eyes open, because closing them makes dizziness worse.”
  • Don’t overeat and avoid spicy and greasy foods. That can be tough at a carnival, but it’s worth skipping the concession stand in this case.
  • There’s some evidence that ginger may help prevent motion sickness, so try chewing a piece of crystallized ginger or taking capsules of powdered ginger.
  • Wear a wristband that applies pressure to body points that are believed to influence motion sickness. These are available at drugstores or online.
  • Don’t turn around or move a lot. Sitting forward helps keep the motion sensed by your eyes and ears the same, “by keeping your head level,” explained Dr. Wong.

“You can also take a motion sickness medicine, available either over the counter or prescribed by a doctor,” Dr. Wong said. “If you’re on a cruise ship, it may be helpful to go to the lowest center foyer of the ship (usually near guest services desks) to relax when taking your first dose of medicine.”


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The relationship with a patient and their primary care doctor can be extremely valuable, and that’s what you get with UPMC Primary Care. When you work with a primary care physician (PCP), you develop a lasting relationship. Your doctor will get to know you and your history and can plan your treatments accordingly. Our PCPs offer a variety of services, including preventive care and treatment for both urgent and chronic conditions. With dozens of UPMC Primary Care locations across our network of care, you can find a PCP close to you. Schedule an appointment today.